Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), the fintech subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, has received a $500,00 grant from African Development Bank to determine the feasibility of deploying women agents in the northern part of Nigeria.
A statement on Wednesday issued by MTN stated that due to security issues and cultural norms, women have been disproportionately excluded from accessing finance in northern Nigeria.
The grant obtained from AfDB’s Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), will cover a feasibility study, human-centered design of a women-centric agent network and a pre-pilot to test the impact on the uptake of financial services by women in the Northern region.
Despite being the continent’s largest economy, access to financial services in Nigeria is still a challenge for millions of people, particularly in rural areas, where an estimated 55 percent of the total population are unbanked.
It added that mobile money adoption currently stands at four percent, with an agent ratio of 228.8 agents per 1,000 adults.
The grant from the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) enables Y’ello Digital Financial Services to acquire insight into exclusion as a result of gender gap from a feasibility study and a human-centric design journey to attract more women into the agent business.
According to the statement, there are plans for YDFS to use this insight to expand its existing super-agent network in northern Nigeria.
“The African Development Bank, through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), is delighted to support this project, furthering our work to improve the quality of life for people in Africa and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals to help reduce poverty and inequality, particularly relating to gender,” Director of the Financial Sector Development Department at the AfDB, Stefan Nalletamby, said.
“This grant funding will be used not only to broaden women’s access to finance in Nigeria, but also to provide an avenue for their increased economic empowerment.”
ADFI Coordinator, Sheila Okiro, said, “This project was selected from nearly 340 proposals sent in response to ADFI’s call to support financial inclusion in Africa using digital technology. ADFI was looking for innovative thinking that is intentional in addressing the persistent financial inclusion gender gap on the continent.
“Despite being the backbone of their families and communities, women in Africa remain the most excluded in the world from the finance sector and the mechanisms it offers to help build economic resilience. Through this project YDFS is poised to help bridge the gap in Nigeria.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Y’ello Digital Financial Services, Usoro Usoro, said, “We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian can seamlessly access financial services for their personal and business needs.
“To achieve this, we constantly seek partnerships to support the financial inclusion strategy of the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria.”